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Journey to Karbala: Part II

I also recorded some clips throughout my journey that decided to compile into a video. While I wish i had an objective and more time to shoot a proper video, this is the result of the many clips I did manage to shoot. I'd suggest watching it full screen and in HD. 


Journey to Karbala: Part I

At the time of Arbaeen, the 40th day after the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (a.s.), people from all over the world walk towards the city of Karbala to commemorate the tragic event and carry the message of fighting injustice. Men, women, children and elderly, all from different places and nationalities, participate in the walk with the common goal of visiting the shrine of Hussain, making it the largest peaceful gathering in the world at above 20 million people.

On my recent trip to Iraq, I embarked on a journey to walk from Najaf to Karbala. The walk itself is about 80km (50 miles) and took about 2.5 days to complete. While the pictures alone can never replace the experience of completing the journey for ones self (many of the experiences and feelings are uncapturable in a simple picture), I attempted to capture some of the moments through my camera.

Shrine of Imam Ali (a.s) Najaf, Iraq

Food and services are provided to all the pilgrims free of charge all throughout the journey. Everything from fries, falafel, soups, curries, rice, lentils, beans, vegetables, fruits, kabobs, shwarma and many other items are offered. Often times, they will be given in the middle of the road to not disturb the walkers pace. Other services include massages, phone charging stations, medical camps, laundry stations, and practically anything else you can think of.

You couldn't walk more than 20 steps before someone would offer you tea. It was easily the best tea I've ever had, only sometimes I would have to remove at least some sugar from the cup. Usually served in small glasses, the cup is first half filled with sugar then tea is poured in to fill the rest of the cup. 

Mawkabs (resting places) are also every few feet. These basic shelters can be tents or sometimes even concrete buildings for people to stay overnight or even rest in the daytime. Blankets and pillows are provided for you to sleep or nap after a long day of walking. 

The hospitality here is unparalleled. You can feel the energy and genuine desire of those who want to serve the pilgrims. You can see and feel the disappointment of the individuals if you do not stop to eat or rest at a mawkab. These people open their houses and will give anything and everything for the contentment of the pilgrims. The craziest part is they might not know a word of your language, and you might not know a word of theirs, but the mutual love and respect for Imam Hussain (a.s.)  brings the world together. 

Part 2 and video coming soon. 



On my recent trip to Iraq, I had an 11 hour layover Turkey. LuckilyTurkish Airlines offered me a hotel, but who has time to rest when there is city to be explored? So I dropped the bags off at the hotel and ventured into Eski Istanbul (Old City).

First stop was the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, commonly referred to as the Blue Mosque. Unfortunately the mosque itself was closed at the time I was there (2AM) but I still got to witness its Classical- Islamic architecture from the outside.

Right across the Blue Mosque was Hagia Sophia, which was a Church, then Mosque, and now museum.

Even for such an odd time, the streets were still alive. 

Whirling Dervish at a local lounge.

Fresh squeezed pomegranate juice. I wish there were stalls like this in the states. 

Iskender Kebab. Grilled lamb kabob with fresh tomato sauce placed on layer fried bread and topped with butter and yogurt. 

Next up was my favorite part, dessert. Hafiz Mustafa 1864 is perhaps the most popular pastry shop in Turkey, and it sure does live up to its reputation. 

I wish i could try everything in the shop, but even I can only eat so much. Here is some of what I tried

Assortment of Turkish Delights 

Probably my favorite thing here was the traditional baked rice pudding. 

Couldn't leave without having tea to wash it all down.